This publication outlines some of the challenges in estimating and managing costs that we have observed in our work on major projects. It offers Accounting Officers and senior decision makers some ground rules and thoughts on factors to consider when challenging costs.

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Poor estimating and control of costs affect whether projects give value for money, and they can also divert funds from other priorities. But with increasingly complex projects, it is more difficult to produce estimates, especially when under pressure to make firm commitments early on and in the face of over-optimism.

With many non-cost concerns to consider and weigh up when making decisions about a project, it can be hard to spot the warning signs about cost estimates that can set up a project for failure from the start. This survival guide seeks to help by outlining:

  • the challenges and reasons to be careful;
  • warning signs at project initiation and after the initial decision to proceed;
  • some dos and don’ts for managing costs during delivery;
  • useful questions for Accounting Officers to ask when looking at cost estimates and as the project progresses; and
  • a glossary of costing terms.

It also provides links to other resources and further support.

June 2018